malaria could be stopped by blocking cell path
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Last Updated : GMT 05:17:37
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Chink in the infectious organism's armour

Malaria could be stopped by blocking cell path

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Malaria could be stopped by blocking cell path
London - Arabstoday

Malaria could be stopped by blocking cell path It is hoped the discovery will lead to new treatments or vaccines to combat the malaria scourge which claims a million lives a year. Malaria is spread by the Plasmodium parasite which invades human red blood cells.
So far attempts to develop a vaccine that prevents the organism entering cells have proved unsuccessful.
A major obstacle has been that the parasite is so adaptable. When entry through a molecular ''receptor'' on the cell wall is blocked, the organism switches to another.
The new research has identified a single red blood cell receptor that appears to be essential for malaria infection.
''Our findings were unexpected and have completely changed the way in which we view the invasion process,'' said study author Dr Gavin Wright, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire. ''Our research seems to have revealed an Achilles' heel in the way the parasite invades our red blood cells. It is rewarding to see how our techniques can be used to answer important biological problems and lay the foundations for new therapies.''
The scientists showed that the parasite has to interact with the receptor in a certain way to gain entry.
They also demonstrated that disrupting this interaction completely prevented the parasite invading red blood cells. Crucially, this was true across all parasite strains tested, suggesting that the receptor was a universal entry pathway.
The research is published today in the journal Nature.
''By identifying a single receptor that appears to be essential for parasites to invade human red blood cells, we have also identified an obvious and very exciting focus for vaccine development,'' said co-author Dr Julian Rayner, also from the Sanger Institute.
''The hope is that this work will lead towards an effective vaccine based around the parasite protein.''
Vaccinating against malaria will be the most cost-effective and simplest way to protect populations against the disease.
However, for such an approach to work at the population scale, the vaccine needs to be highly effective.
Professor Adrian Hill, Wellcome Trust senior investigator at the Jenner Institute, Oxford, said: ''Recent reports of some positive results from ongoing malaria vaccine trials in Africa are encouraging, but in the future more effective vaccines will be needed if malaria is ever to be eradicated.
''The discovery of a single receptor that can be targeted to stop the parasite infecting red blood cells offers the hope of a far more effective solution.''
 

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